Northern Ireland

Boston Tapes: Deadline set in ex-IRA man Anthony McIntyre case

Boston College
Image caption The tapes got their name because they were stored in a library at Boston College

Police and prosecutors have been given two weeks to provide reasons why recorded interviews with a former IRA man should not be sent back to America.

High Court judges sitting in Belfast set the deadline in Anthony McIntyre's legal battle against police accessing his "Boston tapes".

The tapes are candid interviews with loyalist and republican paramilitaries held in a library at Boston College.

Dozens of loyalists and republicans provided testimonies to the college.

They spoke on the understanding that their stories would remain confidential while they were alive.

But those assurances were dealt a blow after police secured transcripts and tapes of interviews given by former IRA woman Dolours Price and high-profile loyalist Winston "Winkie" Rea.

Now the PSNI wants access to Anthony McIntyre's recorded recollections as part of investigations into alleged terrorist offences stretching back more than 40 years.

He was one of the main researchers in the project to compile an oral history of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Image caption Anthony McIntyre was the lead researcher for the Boston College project

A subpoena seeking copies of his interviews was served on Boston College by the Government.

It concerned an International Letter of Request (ILOR) setting out alleged offences, including a bomb explosion at Rugby Avenue in Belfast in 1976 and membership of a proscribed organisation.

The tapes were released and flown from America, but they remain under seal within the court pending the judges' ruling.

Anthony McIntyre, who is from Belfast but now lives in the Republic of Ireland, is seeking to judicially review the PSNI and Public Prosecution Service (PPS) for issuing an ILOR which, his lawyers say, is "replete with errors".

They insist that he was the victim in the bombing and that he was acquitted of the membership charge that features in the ILOR.

Written submissions

As the case returned to court on Monday, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan referred to defects and inaccuracies said to feature in the letter - including an armed robbery for which Anthony McIntyre was never convicted.

Despite the prosecution's submissions that those mistakes were highlighted, Sir Declan expressed uncertainly about how the process was dealt with in America.

"We don't know what happened as a result of the corrective steps taken by the PPS," Sir Declan said.

He put it to the parties: "Should we not act in accordance with the law and send the material back?"

Following deliberations with his two judicial colleagues, the Lord Chief Justice confirmed the fortnight's deadline.

He told the PPS and PSNI that they must lodge any further written submission within two weeks as to why it should be presumed that defects within the ILOR were regularised.

The court will then deliver judgment or list the case for a further hearing in January.

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